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23rd Ave corridor ‘Vision Zero’ work to continue in 2018

A new round of changes is coming to 23rd Ave corridor between John and Roanoke streets starting next year. Yes, technically, it’s 24th Ave between Helen and Roanoke. Phase 3 construction of the 23rd Avenue Vision Zero project is likely to start in the spring or summer of 2018, but it won’t be nearly as disruptive as the first phase of the project, between John and Jackson streets, which took 21 months to complete, city officials say.

Phase 3 will continue the Seattle road diet strategy in an effort to reduce accidents and make roads safer for pedestrians. The biggest change in this phase will be between John and Boyer streets. Currently the road is two lanes in each direction. The redesigned road will have one lane going northbound (downhill), a center turn lane, and two lanes going southbound (uphill) the lane closest to the curb, however, will be bus only. SDOT hopes the new design will help address speeding in the corridor.

The bus only lane is designed to help keep bus travel time reliable, in advance of potentially placing a rapid ride bus on the road, though that’s not likely to happen until 2024. The bus only lane will continue to 23rd and Madison, where it will transition into the single lane southbound lane there now.

The stretch between Boyer and Roanoke will continue to be two lanes in each direction, a nod to the traffic volumes in that area around state 520. That area will get some improvements, along with the rest of the corridor.

These will include things such as spot repairs to pavement and sidewalks, upgrades to curb ramps, and possibly other pedestrian upgrades, said Dawn Schellenberg of Seattle Department of Transportation.

This phase of the project will be far simpler than the first phase. During that phase, the city used the construction as an opportunity to replace a century old sewer main as part of the work. This time around, there will be no such major disruption. The road will simply be re-striped for the new lanes, not torn up and replaced.

It’s too far in advance for the city to give specific timelines, but Schellenberg suggested it’s the sort of thing that can be done with a couple weekends worth of work and local disruptions, instead of months of closing the entire stretch of road. This time around, there’s not likely to be any long-term bus re-routes either – though there may be during those weekends.

Schellenberg noted that the smaller scale of this phase is due in part to budget constraints, and in part to the state is expecting to begin construction on 520 in the area.

Boyer Ave E to E Roanoke St

E John St to Boyer Ave E

In addition, Schellenberg and Jason Fialkoff, senior engineer for SDOT, said the city is going to consider adding traffic lights in the corridor. They said they’ve heard input from the community suggesting people might want lights added at the intersections of 24th Avenue and Lynn Street and also at 24th and Interlaken, though they’re not sure if it might be better at Interlaken Place or Interlaken Boulevard, and would like to hear ideas from residents.

This phase of the project, as proposed, will be funded by the 2015 Levy to Move Seattle, and Schellenberg said it would cost $3.5 million.

Meanwhile, the first three phases of the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway are considered complete and the city has said it would be studying the impact on creating safer, calmer streets for biking and walking this year. The greenway’s network of side streets and paths runs on adjacent to 23rd Ave between E Roanoke on the north end and Rainier Ave S to the south. Planning for how best to connect the greenway to safer routes around Montlake continues, SDOT says:

For those keeping track of Phase 2 of the project, from South Jackson Street to Rainier Avenue South, construction could start as early as April 2018, and is expected to take a year. It will also change the road from four lanes to two lanes with a center turn lane. Phase 2 will also involve replacing sewer lines, adding landscaping, and other smaller improvements.

For residents who want more details about Phase 3 or want to give feedback about the proposed design, SDOT is holding an open house Thursday night, October 19th, from 5:30 to 7 PM at the Montlake Community Center.

You can learn more at

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14 thoughts on “23rd Ave corridor ‘Vision Zero’ work to continue in 2018

  1. “SDOT hopes the new design will help address speeding in the corridor.”

    Know what would help address speeding in the corridor? Enforcement of the speed limits by police.

  2. As a resident along this corridor, I’m super excited about the road diet continuing north from Madison. I was starting to worry that it wouldn’t happen, so I’m really happy that it will. Woohoo!

  3. This will back up traffic in this portion just like the previous changes have backed up traffic. Changes may need to be made, but having traffic back up further isn’t a move forward. The worst part is that those who want to turn left quite often have to sit in a long line of cars until they can even get into the left turn lane (legally, that is. Plenty of people get fed up and move into the left turn lane far before it’s actually legal to do so, which causes more opportunities for head-on and other collisions. This is not a good trade-off to speeding, especially when speeding can be easily enforced.). That backs up everyone and means cars are idling longer that could have moved along already.

    • They don’t care if it backs up traffic and makes everyine’s commute a nightmare. The idea is to torture you out of your car, and it seems to work.

  4. Putting arterials on a road diet is idiotic. Arterials are MEANT to move cars through the city efficiently- that why they are called arterials.
    Trying to drive south on 23rd at 4:30 is already so backed up that I’ve taken to driving down side streets because it is faster. I’m sure that is not what’s the city wants. I also now try to avoid going on that direction at all, and subsequently do not shop there or spend my money there. The time cost is not worth it.

    • After streets are redesigned like this they move just as many vehicles on average, just much more safely:

      “After a safety redesign, streets still carry as many vehicles as they did prior to their road diet. If fact, our streets are in better shape and can take on even more vehicle volume after a safety redesign. Another benefit? Aggressive speeding, the kind of behavior that kills people, falls dramatically. And not surprisingly, collisions and crashes of all sorts drop precipitously too.”

    • Yeah, sure. Have you driven on 23rd Ave between Madison and Jackson in the afternoon lately? Try explaining to everyone stuck in total gridlock, dead-stopped traffic that the street is now carrying more traffic. They’ll laugh in your face. No worries, though—now it’s pushed all kinds of traffic over to MLK and into the neighborhoods where people are walking and bicyclists are riding. WIN!

      They’re right about one thing though. I’m sure speeding and accidents have fallen on 23rd. Kinda hard to speed in bumper-to-bumper gridlocked traffic.

    • I drive this corridor all the time, and yes, it takes a few more minutes to get where I’m going, but I’m fine with that. It just takes getting used to. The “gridlock” you describe is, to me, just traffic moving at a reasonable speed. Instead of being able to drive from Madison to Jackson at 40 mph in like 4 minutes, it is now more likely to be going 20 or 25 mph in 10 minutes. You just have to give yourself more time to get where you’re going. The trade-off is worth it to me — safer speeds, which result in fewer dangerous collisions and a more pleasant, safer pedestrian environment.

    • @Dave……your comment makes alot of sense, but unfortunately many people are just too damn impatient to listen to your voice of reason.

  5. Absurdly stupid. Now cars are speeding down my street. Why do we need a road diet?? I could understand it it there was decent transit down 23rd/ 24th. Why don’t we ger to vote on these major changes?

    • How is it that MLK along the light rail has two lanes in each direction PLUS turn lanes. The speed limit is 35. Why no road diet for folks who already have the light rail. There are hundreds of residential dwelling along this route. Why do we get the road dier???

    • It’s apples to oranges. It was always a bigger road, and many of those buildings have been built and opened after the light rail was announced, and because of it. 23rd has never been as wide as that, and MLK has had many more commercial businesses along it for a long time.